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Pair of MSU gymnasts selected as Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch for 2021 season

January 15, 2021
<p>Sophomore Alaina Raybon finishes her flip on Feb. 22, 2020 during Elevate the Stage at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. </p>

Sophomore Alaina Raybon finishes her flip on Feb. 22, 2020 during Elevate the Stage at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.

Photo by Jack Falinski | The State News

Michigan State gymnastics was selected to place ninth out of ten teams, as ranked by the coaches in the Big Ten preseason poll.

But a pair of athletes from the program are expected to be special this season.

Sophomore Nyah Smith and freshman Baleigh Garcia were selected as Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch, the Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday.

Smith, a West Bloomfield native, was awarded the Big Ten Gymnast to Watch honors for her second season in a row. Last season her season-high scores consisted of 39.225 in the all-around, 9.850 on both beam and floor, 9.875 on vault and 9.775 on bars. 

“Nyah Smith comes off an amazing 2020 season as a consistent all-rounder, who continued to grow and excel, not only on each event, but also throughout the season,” MSU Head Coach Mike Rowe said in a release.

Garcia was also named on the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list, one of only four freshmen across the Big Ten. 

“Baleigh Garcia joined us on day one of official practice with not only her amazing talent but strength, attention to detail and something to prove,” Rowe said. “Along with Nyah, she’s a fierce competitor, both of whom will complement the 2021 Spartans with the dynamics, artistry, proficiency and consistency towards achieving our success!” 

Garcia, coming to MSU from Boca Raton, Florida, will compete in her first season for the green and white. She previously has trained at American Twistars Gymnastics Club, and during her time there won the all-around with first-place finishes on vault, bars and floor. She also placed third on beam at 2020 Elevate the Stage, and sixth on vault at the 2019 J.O. National Championships. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spartans will compete in a Big Ten-only eight-meet schedule, in which their 2021 season will begin the weekend of Jan. 22 at Maryland. 

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